August 2001 / Volume Two / Issue Two
NOTE: This poem is divided into two parts. Click ">" at the bottom of this page to access the next
Alice Cone
In This Dominion

What we would not do:
you would not bruise my skin
with the reflux of your stroke;
and I would not call when
my hands were clutched like claws,
declare, We have to talk.            

We believed what we offered
was simplicity, all anyone
could ever offer:
the moment's repose,
extended yet enfolded
on the night's bare floor,
the wind's current
through the screen
a reminder of what passes.

Yet the risk was inherent
in the way
the moonflowers of our bodies
opened in the dark
and closed upon dawn,
seated in the ease
of early discourse.

Soon enough, I stuttered
through the hoarseness
of my sorry, worn-out throat:
gotta talk.            

I drove to meet you, knowing
I'd arrive back home
all right yet altered.

At first I could not raise my voice
enough for you to hear,
but you listened with such care
that soon our words rang clear-
sweet and mournful as bells,
both wedding and memorial,
the ply and the reply,
this answering
more intimate than the body's
close response,
so much laid bare
the coffee shop withdrew,
every other interchange
invisible and silent.

Then we ventured toward
that romance-
dusk, the death of day-
drew ourselves together,
strolled through town.

I have learned this much
of love and this dominion:
whatever we have
whatever we have brought
to light within the dark,
may lie forever dormant-
still within those twilight clouds
or in the mist rising
off the sidewalk,
still within the dimness
of the street lamps
or inside the fragrance
of the herbal garden,
still within the clods of soil
beside the railroad
or atop another century's steeple,
lodged deep within the belly
of that cannon.